Imperial Japanese Army Otsu-1 (Salmson 2A2)
Kit No: 12-48003
Type: Injection Moulded Plastic
Manufacturer: GasPatch Models
After Market: GasPatch Models Elite Accessories: Vickers 11mm machine gun, Metal turnbuckles type A, Type B and metal anchor points
In the pantheon of global aviation, there are some highly successful aircraft that escape the average modeller’s or air-enthusiast’s gaze simply because they either entered service too late to ‘star’ in a war or were confined to an unglamorous role. The Salmson 2A2 was such a machine, its contribution to aviation history suitably obscure, until GasPatch Models released three 1/48 kits revealing it to the modelling community at large.
Developed in 1917 by French industrialist and aerospace pioneer Emile Salmson, it was only his second creation, the first being the revolutionary Salmson-Moineau S.M.1. This three-seat reconnaissance biplane had a pair of wing-mounted propellers driven by shafts and gears from a single Salmson motor in the fuselage. Although a hundred were built and used operationally, it had weak undercarriage and was complex to maintain. Even the Russians, upon whom it was subsequently palmed off, disliked it. Manufacturing aircraft engines had actually been Emile’s first aviation enterprise back in 1910 when he had established ‘Société de Moteurs Salmson’ along with G. Canton and G. Unné, but the company had subsequently manufactured Sopwith 1½ strutters under licence for the French Air Force. Taking advantage of that experience, Emile was very quick to respond to a 1916 requirement for a 1½ Strutter replacement with the Salmson D type, only to have it equally quickly rejected by the Armeé de l’Air. Undeterred and thirsty for success, he introduced a modified design, the Salmson 2A2, powered by a compact and advanced 260hp Canton-Unné 9z water-cooled nine cylinder radial engine of their own design. It was a two-seat armed reconnaissance biplane of conventional design which proved to be robust, fast, reliable, and easily adaptable in different roles. This time the Armeé de l’Air accepted the design ordering a production run of 3,200 aircraft. Salmson 2A2s became the most commonly used reconnaissance aircraft of the French Army during the last year of World War I, while approximately 700 were operated by the American Expeditionary Force with great success. Post war, several other countries, including Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Greece, flew the 2A2 as their reconnaissance mount. Japan also showed great interest after a team of experts was sent to France to assess the aircraft’s capabilities, resulting in several being shipped east for advanced training and tactics. Kawasaki Dockyard Company undertook license production of 300 examples in 1919 with a similar number built by the Imperial Japanese Army's Tokorozawa supply depot. Regardless of the builder, all aircraft of this type were officially designated Imperial Japanese Army Otsu-1. Although both French and Japanese engineers experimented with alternative power plants because of the uncertain reliability of the watercooled radial 9z, this engine remained as the standard type for the majority of the estimated 1,000 Japanese Salmsons built. The aircraft was retained in service by the Japanese Army until 1933 as the primary reconnaissance type, but it also undertook other roles such as bombing, communications, light transport, and even mail service in civilian use.
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